Monday, February 25, 2008

Six-Word Memoirs (more added--keep 'em coming)

I challenged folks to submit six-word memoirs. Interestingly, it seems like it was easier to capture our pets than ourselves in six words. Honestly, beyond my loves baseball, wrong gender, writes instead snippet, I found it hard to write a serious one for myself. So I walked up the hill, and sought...not inspiration...clarification.

It's a useful exercise, I think. A snapshot, to be sure, but take away the trappings and circumstances, what do we get down to? It's easy enough to do the heart seeks and loves the Lord description--and we do aspire to that. But when we look in the mirror, who do we see?

Thank you to all who have shared their memoirs. Some submitted more than one--I chose my favorite two. Some also included clarification which I am not posting. I think it's more compelling to be 'raw' about this.

If anyone else is prompted to share, email me at kathrynmackel at aol and I'll add you on. Or you can share in comments, if you'd prefer.

God redeems all locust damage-hallelujah!
Elsi Dodge

Empty Nest blahs, new adventures exploring
Jane Squires

"Reluctant Geek, now deep fries words."
David W. Fry

Think once - twice - then zip mouth!
Nancy Wade

I. Clicking her shoes to no avail.
II. Pastors wife trying to stay afloat.
Suzanne Schaffer

I. cold in Maine, heart in pain
II. Regal Name, Children's Work, Song Crafter
Victoria James

Climbing hills. Running to? Or from?
Kathryn Mackel

Writing and quilting using God's talent.
Laughing how God changed my plans.
Merry Stahel

Loves Family. Helps Women. God Directs.
Janice Freeman

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Slippin' and Slidin'

Rain and haze, alternating with crisp, freezing temperatures still plague the Northeast, and make walking in the woods an adventure. A couple of days ago, I spent an hour in the driving rain hiking around the hill, up the backside, and down the new path the forester has made. I was out in that horrific weather to stomp footprints into the top layer of snow.

We had a deep freeze overnight and an inch or so of ice formed over the snow. Even on flat sections of the path, the ice was impassable because it was so slick. Even shuffling couldn’t keep my feet from slipping. The slightest four-inch rise or bump was an invitation to disaster. But my footprints—two inches deep in the ice—made for very safe walking. All I had to do was keep to them, even on the steepest parts of the hill.

Tasha is no respecter of footprints. She was fine the first half of the walk, where the path is relatively flat. As long as she trotted instead of run, she didn’t fall. But the spot where I start up the hill (which used to be a ski slope) is dreadfully steep.

Wisely, I had driven my feet straight into the snow the day before, rather than trekking on top of it. This gave me stair-like steps to follow. As I slowly climbed, I realized that Tasha had not followed me. Instead, she was about twenty feet to my right, clawing her way up the slick crust. She saw me looking at her, and stopped.

And then she started to backslide. The panicked look on her face was hilarious (especially given there was nothing dangerous behind her). She finally slid back to the level path and had to retrace her steps to follow up the footsteps I had laid down.

We reached the top of the hill, where the trail levels off. She stayed with me, even though the walking was the best of the hike. I took a right and started down the hill, following the track the forester bulldozed. My footsteps were frozen into the snow here as well, a nice two-inch hole to step into and not slide.

Tasha went her own way again. I tried to call her to me but she wasn’t sold on following in my footsteps. Her back legs went out from under her and she skidded down the hill. Her claws caught, she righted herself, and trotted over to finish the hike in my footsteps.

Yesterday it was mushy again, and I took the opportunity to stomp out a new path. This totally confused my poor dog who had obediently followed in my footsteps, only to see me veer waaaaaay off our normal path. I wanted to check out a stream that only rushes this time of year.

I’m glad Tasha trusted me to follow, even when I took her into strange territory. That cold, pure water was worth every stompin’ step.

Six-Word Memoirs

Now that we've honored our pets, I'd love to hear your six-word memoirs. My newsletter readers have been emailing them in...please join them. I'd like to post them this Sunday. Feel free to send more than one, though I might choose only one to post. (Otherwise, you're sending a twelve- or eighteen-word memoir!)

To refresh your memory on how it works, here's a couple of examples from Angie Hunt's posting on her blog ( from a week or so ago:

Found true love twice, with spice. --Stephanie Whitson Higgins
Dazed/confused most of the time. --Robin Carroll
Got lost. Got found. Got joy. --Nancy Mehl

Send yours along to kathrynmackel at aol. We'd love to get to know you better. And you might get to know yourself just a little bit better in doing this.

Friday, February 15, 2008

She Came Looking for Me

Two days ago we had five inches of snow, followed by hours and hours of driving rain. Overnight, it froze, leaving us with a horrible mess. The driveway is impassable by foot because it's thick ice. The snow has an inch crust of ice on it. It's bad if you go through, and it's worse if you don't because it is so slick.

When I took Tasha out for her afternoon walk yesterday, my plan was to bust through the ice and make a path for her to follow. She got excited, jumped on the crust and broke through. I didn't get into the woods before I decided to take her back, fearing she'd get cut. I put her inside and left a note for Steve, telling him I had gone into the woods by myself.

Once I got in there, I saw that the woodcutter had been through on the paths with his bulldozer and broken up the crust. It was a lovely little walk for me, though I picked my way very, very carefully, and used my walking stick. Though I didn't go up and over the hill like Tasha and I have been doing, I was out almost an hour.

Though Tasha had been inside all this time, as soon as Steve came home she insisted on going out. She not only came looking for me, this dog who is nearly deaf and has so-so eyesight spotted me almost immediately out in the woods. She worked her way along the crust--breaking through in places--until she reached me.

I took her home via the woodcutter's trail, keeping her safe.

Were only I so habituated to being with God that I would so wisely know where to seek Him out, and easily find Him!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


My six-word memoir (Loves Baseball. Wrong Gender. Writes Instead.) should clue you that I watched the Congressional hearings yesterday. Combined with my love of baseball is the research I did for BOOST, my upcoming novel about girls taking steroids.

What looked like a he said-he said investigation---or witch hunt, depending on your perspective---of Roger Clemens’ alleged steroid use was in truth a check on The Mitchell Report. Following the 2005 publication of Jose Canseco’s book Juiced and the ensuring Congressional hearings, Major League Baseball commissioned former Senator George Mitchell to investigate the use of steroids in baseball.

Some of the players named in the Mitchell Report have admitted to using HGH, steroids, or both. Some have remained silent. Only one player---Roger Clemens---came out forcefully with a denial.

There’s a couple things at play here. The first is the fairness of competition and the purity of the game. If Barry Bonds is pumped up on steroids and hits home runs instead of fly balls off Curt Schilling, where is the fairness in that? If Jason Giambi, who has admitted using steroids and suffered from a pituitary tumor because of it, is so pumped up on the juice that his forearms look like they’re about to explode, where’s the purity in that?

I understand the temptation to use. As a chronic pain sufferer who has never smoked marijuana, I have had times when I was desperate to get some pot to relieve my pain, help me sleep. As someone who is still rehabbing from a shoulder injury, I would love to be on HGH to accelerate recovery.

Sports Illustrated just did an article about an in-line racer whose father started him on the juice when he was only thirteen. A football coach I know told me when he played in college, Winstrol was so widespread among his teammates that they were left out in plain sight in dorm rooms.

The temptation is immense. A teenager wants to build his body and draw the attention of college or pro scouts. A college player wants to get off the bench, or be a star. A pro player on the bubble wants to get good enough to keep from being cut. A very good pro player wants to become great, and thus hit that huge payday.

I just want someone to tell the truth.

The way to stop this cycle is for a sports icon like Roger Clemens to stand up and say, “Yeah, I did it. What did you expect? If one does it, we all have to do it to keep up. Our careers are so short and the rewards so immense, how can I not do it?”

The Mitchell Report made clear the steroid problem is the responsibility of MLB owners, the players’ association, doctors and trainers, and the players’ themselves. We fans are not to be excused. The home run chase between Maguire and Sosa revived baseball after the strike almost killed it. We want power and speed and performance. I want David Ortiz to be clean and pure but I also want him to jack homeruns.

Andy Pettitte, a close friend of Roger Clemens, gave testimony and an affidavit that Clemens told him he took HGH. Pettitte was devastated to have to give this testimony but, as a Christian, he said he was compelled to tell the truth. Not only did Pettitte stipulate to McNamee’s accusation that he injected Pettitte with HGH in 2002, he confessed—under no duress—to using it in 2004 (not with McNamee). He didn’t have to say anything about the second use but he told congressional investigators that “someday he would stand before God” and he wanted to be truthful about all his use.

Assuming Clemens did use steroids, as the evidence suggests, that he pitched so well deep into his forties is likely a result of illegal performance enhancement. Contrast him with another excellent pitcher, Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres. Maddux has also has pitched into his forties, not with power like Clemens, but due to experience, wisdom, and guile.

It seems to me, as we “walk out our salvation with fear and trembling,” we should follow the Maddux example and not the Clemens-Bonds model. Spiritual maturity brings wisdom, experience, craftiness which not only keep us in the game but---like Greg Maddux with his young teammates—helps us model how to do it clean.

Please guys---just tell the truth. I’ll forgive you. And I’ll cheer and cheer and cheer!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Our Pets in Six-Words

There's a new book called NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING. It's a collection of six-word life summaries by writers and speakers, collected by Smith Magazine. Please enjoy some six-word summaries from my friends.

(If you want to join in, email me at kathrynmackel at aol and I'll amend the list....Keep them coming...we just got our first bird!)

Enjoy! I certainly did.

* * *

Shrill bark. Jumps high. Loves Robin.
~~Robin Lee Hatcher's pup)

Prancing hooves, bowed head, gentle heart
Classy Bonanza (aka Nanza)
~~Wanda Dyson's Quarterhorse

Too smart to be a dog.
Daytona (aka Toni)
~~Wanda Dyson's Austrailian Shepherd

Survived coyote kiss, chews good handbags.
~~Kristin Billerbeck's 14 week Yorkie/Pom Puppy

Chew Dig Chew Cuddle Chew...Sleep.
~~Karen Ball's 4-month-old Siberian husky

Affection and food. More, more, more!
~~Karen Ball's Aussie-Terrier mix we got from a shelter, whom we affectionately call our "black hole of emotional need"

Unconditional love wrapped in (tangled) fur
~~Mindy Starns Clark's Shih Tzu

Long red hair, matching temperment, squeaky.
~~Sunni Jeffer's cat

Docile, petite, pretty, a female terminator.
BC (aka barn cat)
~~Sunni Jeffer's barn cat

Gentlemanly, loves to work and hug.
~~Sunni Jeffer's adopted stray dog

Uninhibited, affectionate, big heart, no brains
~~Janelle Clare Schneider's boxer puppy

Getting older, loves affection, shadows Janelle
~~Janelle Clare Schneider's Cavalier spaniel/Pomeranian cross

Sleep all day and steal socks.
Elliot, Emily and Eloise
~~DeAnna Dodson's cats

Four cats in the house. Crazy!
~~Cheryl Hodde's cats

Lots of love. Gone too soon.
~~Nancy Mehl's Jack Russell pup

Do my job. Foam and growl.
~~Angela Hunt's mastiff

Look mastiffly. Bark deep. Hide quick.
~~Angela Hunt's mastiff

Sleep, eat, snuggle … life is good!
~~Elsi Dodge's elderly beagle

Stalk, attack, plot … accept homage graciously
~~Elsi Dodge's saber-toothed tiger masquerading as a tabby cat

Whole house chewed, puppy eyes, forgiveness.
Bacon D
~~Annie Jone's Hammbutt - a terrier + dachsund = Derrier, 8 mos

Evil eyes, fast claws, stay away
~~Kathryn Mackel's cat

Very very old, still climbs hills
~~Kathryn Mackel's dog

Wrestle with Koda and chase Ryan
Sadie (the Lady)
~~Ryan Mackel's dog

Walk? Run! Play! Sniff! Fun outside!
~~Merry Stahel's wolf/husky mix

I will protect after my nap.
~~Merry Stahel's Shiba Inu mix

The world should fear this cockatiel.
~~Danielle's cockatiel.

Always happy, want Food, love Love.
~~Judy Vine's 11-year-old best buddy

Best Cat. Purred loudest. Loved most.
in memory of Miffer
~~Janice Freeman

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saying Everything in Six Words

There's a new book called NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING. It's a collection of six-word life summaries by writers and speakers, collected by Smith Magazine. Angie Hunt challenged some of us to have at it, and the results are on her blog today. Please check it out, see if your favorite authors are there:

For example, here's three that I cut and pasted:

Princess by nature with good handbags. --Kristen Billerbeck
Sarcastic Southern belle, lies like kudzu. --Tammy Alexander
Happy mom outgrew job. Invented another. --Deborah Raney

Next month, I'm going to sponsor a contest for my readers (and my friends, ya'll) to submit their own six-word memoirs. But given we're all pet fanatics in this neck of the woods, let's see if we can do our dogs/cats/birds/whatever pet lightens our lives.

Here's a great example from Robin Lee Hatcher:

Shrill bark. Jumps high. Loves Robin.
-- Poppet Hatcher

Please email me at kathrynmackel at aol dot com, and I'll post them in a couple of days. And I promise...I will not post Evil. Evil. Evil. And more evil. as Sultana's memoir. (Unless she whacks me today.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Eyes of Love

I'm fine, I'm fine. No big deal. It was a small patch, and I have an L-shaped repair over my eyebrow. A small bandaid would cover it but they put this big pressure bandage on it because they stretch the skin to cover the hole, and they need pressure on it for a couple of days.

Here's what's funny. My sweet husband called me midday, made sure the procedure went fine. He came home, said hi, got about his business while I cut the vegetables for the stir-fry. I finally asked him what he thought of this big bandage.

"I didn't notice it," he said.

"How could you not?" I asked.

"I don't know. I just saw you."

It's not a disregard that made him overlook the bandage, I know. He just wasn't looking for the injury...he was looking all all of me for whom I am.

Doesn't God do that? Dig us out, bandage us up, and then see us with His eyes of love--see us whole?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Eyes Have It

I need to have a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my eyebrow today. No big deal--basal cell is a surface cancer, 100% curable simply by removing that outer layer of skin. I'm going to have a Mohs micrographic surgery, which means they'll remove some tissue, freeze it and look at it under the scope. If there's still some cancer cells, they'll remove more issue. On and on until the region is clear of the basal cells. It's a procedure I'm grateful for, because it's designed to remove the cancer but also to limit disfiguration.

The only problem? I likely will have to be at the surgeon's office for about 4 hours, most of the time spent waiting.

I cannot sit still at the best of times.

And I certainly cannot sit still in front of daytime television, which the receptionist cheerfully tells me will be available in the comfortable patient waiting room.

Two things can entertain me enough to sit still. One is reading, the other is writing. I plan to bring my computer and get some writing done but there's a little complication.

I wear contact lenses. And because I need them for distance and reading, I have different lenses in each eye. My left eye has the lens for reading, my right for distance (though I usually don't bother to wear that one.) If you've never experienced this, it sounds bizarre but your brain accomodates both lenses, automatically focusing with the correct eye for the correct distance.

Because the patch of cancer is on my left eyebrow, I won't be able to wear my reading lens. And Iwon't be able to wear my glasses because they cover the spot with a bulky bandage between removal and inspection. I've been told my eye will probably swell shut.

Reading and writing are like breathing to me. I can't just sit there for four hours and vegetate. I HAVE to be able to read. So I put my reading lens--always worn in my left eye--into my right eye this morning.

And thus...the war began. My right eye took to the lens right away...I can read quite well with it. But my left eye is not happy, not at all. It wants to do the reading because that's been it's job for years and years. With uncorrected vision, it can't help at all. But it keeps trying to, thus screwing up the corrected vision in my right eye. I walked around dizzy for the first 20 minutes, my brain was completely disoriented because it was being directed to read and see close-up from the wrong side. As I write this, my left eye is still trying to help...but it's calming down a little.
This puts me so in mind of the Holy Spirit. When God gives us that spiritual corrective lens, it's a joy and a revelation. But I keep trying to see life through my "old" eye, focusing the way I'm used to focusing, seeing the way I am accustomed to seeing. The war between the redeemed eye and the natural eye can be spiritually disorienting, even to the point of open warfare as the natural eye submits to the corrected--and transformed--eye of the Spirit.

The Christian walk can be a dizzy affair as our vision is corrected. Lent is a great time for getting back into focus, isn't it?

Friday, February 1, 2008

If A Tree Falls in the Forest--Redux

The joy of snow and ice...the ticks are gone for now, and Tasha and I can tromp anywhere in the woods we can get to. The only limiting factor is the fact that there is a crust under about six inches of our latest snowfall, so some places are treacherous. We think we're walking in that small layer of snow, break through the crust into empty air until hitting ground a foot further down. I'm learning to recognize those areas by the waves in the surface snow that indicate empty space underneath.

Tasha is feeling frisky these days and happily following me up this hill. Don't think a little rise...think a hill that's probably a half a mile from side to side. It's so big and steep that it was once a local ski slope. It's great exercise for me and she gets excited when she sees me heading up instead of around.

The other day, I checked the weather map (as I always do) before heading out. The map showed showers about sixty miles away but was otherwise clear.

Hm. Right. Tasha and I were on the far side of the hill, cresting it when dark clouds and very high winds blew in. It is very dangerous to be in the woods during high winds (and someday I'll tell you my miracle story) because big branches and huge trees that are either dead or dying can be brought down. I was stuck on top of the hill, trying to figure out a safe way home.

And then it occurred to me...the forester has been cutting trees on the side of the hill where I never go, because it is always laden with ticks. No ticks on this day and, because he's been cutting, there was a clear swath all the way back to his workspace (which is on the other side of my stone wall). Tasha and I cut over that way, still under trees but not nearly as many as in the other ways back to my home. The windstorm raged over my head but the trees were now at a distance, giving me a real measure of security.

His clearing had made it so less likely that some disaster was going to come down on my head.

Will I ever learn?

CAT MONTH...Did I miss anyone's cats? Email me privately if I did and I'll get your kitties posted. kathrynmackel at aol